Before finding a lawyer: What’s your lawsuit?

Happy the man who could search out the causes of things. – Virgil, Georgics

There are two solid reasons to pin down what kind of lawsuit you’re planning.

  • You need to get a fast idea about the statute of limitations, the deadline for filing your lawsuit.
  • And you’ll be looking for a lawyer who specializes in that area of law.

What follows is an exhaustive (and exhausting) list entitled “nature of the lawsuit” from the website for United States Courts. (You can log into this website yourself and given what I’m going to tell you about researching lawsuits, you should. Go to pacer and set up an account that will permit you to enter the web site free; you will not be charged unless you print out documents. I’ve added pacer to Sites of Interest, on the right of this page.)

CONTRACT:  insurance; marine; Miller Act; negotiable instrument; recovery of overpayment and enforcement of judgment; Medicare; recovery of defaulted student loans (excl. veterans); recovery of overpayment of veteran’s benefits; stockholders suits; contract product liability; franchise.

REAL PROPERTY: land condemnation; foreclosure; rent, lease and ejectment; torts to land; tort product liability; all other real property.

TORTS: Personal injury (airplane; assault, libel and slander; Federal Employers liability; marine; marine product liability; motor vehicle; motor vehicle product liability; other personal injury; medical malpractice; product liability; asbestos product liability).

PERSONAL PROPERTY: other fraud; truth in lending; other personal property damage; property damage product liability;

CIVIL RIGHTS: voting; employment; housing/accommodations; welfare; Americans with Disabilities – Employment; Americans with Disabilities – Other; other civil rights.

PRISONER PETITIONS: motions to vacate sentence; general; death penalty; mandamus and other; civil rights; prison condition.

FORFEITURE/PENALTY: agriculture; other food & drug; drug related seizure of property; liquor laws; railroad & truck; airline regulations; occupational safety/health; other.

LABOR: Fair Labor Standards Act; labor/management relations; Labor/Management Reporting & Disclosure Act; Railway Labor Act; other labor litigation; Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974.

BANKRUPTCY: appeal; withdrawal.

PROPERTY RIGHTS: copyrights; patent; trademark.

SOCIAL SECURITY: health insurance; black lung cases; disability insurance; Supplemental Security Income; retirement and survivors benefits.

FEDERAL TAX SUITS: Taxes (US plaintiff or defendant); IRS-third party.

OTHER STATUTES: State reapportionment; antitrust; banks and banking; commercial/ICC rates/etc.; deportation; racketeer influenced and corrupt organizations (RICO); consumer credit; cable/satellite TV; Selective Service; securities/commodities/exchanges; customer challenge; Agricultural Acts; Economic Stabilization Act; environmental matters; Energy Allocation Act; Freedom of Information Act (FOIL); appeal of fee determination under equal access to justice; constitutionality of state statutes; other statutory actions.

Hm. Maybe that was too helpful. Let’s try to pin it down further. Here’s a simplified list of areas of law culled from several free web sites:

Accidents & injuries
bankruptcy & debt
civil rights (including employment, housing, etc.)
class actions
dangerous products
divorce & family law
eminent domain
employee benefits
employee rights
estate planning
health care
Indians & native populations
intellectual property
labor & employment
medical malpractice
Occupational Safety & Health (OSHA)
professional liability & legal malpractice
real estate
small business
technology & science
toxic torts
workers compensation
zoning, planning & land use.

You should be able to pluck a cause for your lawsuit out of those two lists.

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